Rachel Douglass Introduction Is there ever a situation in which committing suicide is moral? According to Hume the short answer is yes. According to those who agree with Kantian ethics, however, would say that it is always immoral to commit suicide. In this paper, I will argue that Kant’s view on this is more valid than Hume’s view. Background Kantian ethics are based around the idea of duty (Velleman 19).
However, the statement “Kant argues that we should never act based on hypothetical imperatives” is false. Kant believes that hypothetical imperatives can be applied rarely, in certain situations. The principle of universalizability states that if one act is correct then another act, in an identical situation, should be correct too. Treating others how you would like to be treated is the golden rule, so according to the principle of universalizability if person A treats person B one way, it only makes sense for person B to treat person A that way. Thus, the golden rule and principle of universalizability are equivilent in that case.
There must be an objective principle underlying willing, one that all rational agents would accept Categorical Imperative According to Kant this is simply the supreme principle or moral law. Furthermore, he explains that every moral agent recognizes whenever accepting an action as morally obligatory. The main question arises here is Why is the categorical imperative “imperative”? Kant’s answer to that is first, human beings are imperfect creatures and hence need rules imposed upon and second, these rules enjoin us to do or not to do something thus we conceive them as necessitating our action “Act only in such a way in which the maxim of action can be rationally willed as a universal law”. But this requires unconditional conformity by all rational beings, regardless of circumstances and, it Is unconditional and applicable at all times Hypothetical Imperative Kants description to this one is illustrated in the following example: “If I want to obtain e, then I must obtain means m.” In other words it says that “If I want to buy a house, then I must work hard to make enough money for a down
But there lies a bigger picture, Kant doesn 't judge the morality of the action per se but adds whether or not the action would be more difficult to perform if everyone performed it. One way to judge the universalizability of an action is to submit it to a test--enter the contradiction and conception test which clearly defines whether or not an action is permissible. The test identifies if the action is consistent--first, the test asks to formulate a maxim and to imagine the world where everyone supports and acts on the respective maxim. The last point on the test asks whether or not the goal of the maxim could be achieved in such a world. If the answer was no, then the maxim couldn 't possibly be
This is often confused with the golden rule of “treat others as you yourself would like to be treated.” However in Kantianism the rule is “treat people as they ought to be treated” (Burnor, 162). It then becomes ones duty to treat people as they ought to be treated and not base decisions on any one individual’s experiences. Kantianism is against “a posteriori” or actions that come from experience. As experiences are not universal and would create inconsistencies among people making moral choices, Kant is against making choices dependent on experiences. For example, one individual who helps a fallen old man back to his feet may be attacked for assisting; Another individual who helps a different old man to his feet might be offered monetary compensation for his or her service.
Immanuel Kant’s humanity formulation of the categorical imperative asserts that one should “act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never as a mere means, but always at the same time as an end.” In Kant’s humanity formulation, humanity is all persons, mere means is using a person a “tool” without dignity and respect, and as an end means treating a person with dignity and respect. The conditions of the contract made between William and Elizabeth Stern and Mary Beth Whitehead are not morally permissible in Kant’s ethical theory because such a contract does not respect the dignity of the baby. The contact does not respect the dignity of the baby because it treats her as a mere
George Mavrodes’ 1986 paper titled Religion and the Queerness of Morality attempts to prove that moral obligations are rational only in a Theistic world. Consequently, he says that moral obligations are absurd in a non-theistic world. To prove this to be the case, he first describes the features of a non-theistic world; he then goes on to show why it would be absurd for moral obligations to exist in a such a world. While I agree with his description of a non-theistic world, I disagree that it would be absurd for there to exist moral obligations in one. To show that “morality…depends on religion” (Mavrodes 214), Mavrodes first describes a world in which there is no God; he calls this the “Russellian world,” named after Bertrand Russell for his essay “A Free Man’s Worship.” Mavrodes says that the “most relevant features of a Russellian world” (215) are that: (1) mental activity and consciousness are caused by, as Russell put it,
This theory doesn 't describe what you should be doing morally for yourself but rather prescribes you to do it for yourself. The two objections to psychological egoism are the everyday objection and the evolutionary objection. The best arguments for ethical egoism rely on psychological egoism as their premise. These arguments also make us of other general philosophical principles. Even if we accepted those principles, we still have strong reasons to doubt the truth of psychological egoism.
In fact, natural and eternal law being a 'higher law' is the basis of King's philosophy of 'non-violent civil disobedience.' King views the segregation laws, a human law, to be in disagreement with natural and eternal law; therefore, he believes that these laws should not be followed. King writes, "Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality" ("Letter"). The first sentence is an appeal to 'higher law'; King claims if a law devalues someone, it is contrary to natural and eternal law, so the law cannot be just.
Using Kant’s notion of a maxim it would be wrong to cheat on the final exam in a course that you do not like and feel you will not benefit from. In the book it stated this, “Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) argued that lying is wrong under any circumstances. He did not appeal to religion; instead, he held that lying is forbidden by reason itself” (Rachels 129). This shows that no matter what the situation may be that lying is looked down upon. He believed that every rational person should believe the Categorical Imperative.